Last year, Harvard professor Todd Rose, author of the bestseller, The End of Average, asked me how I developed Performance-based Hiring. Todd was interested since much of what he discovered in his research identifying the drivers of human performance had been captured in Performance-based Hiring. I told Todd I conducted lots of trial and error experiments over a twenty year period. Many of the results of these experiments are described in thisPerformance-based Hiring course just published.

Here’s a quick summary of my experiments which parallel much of Rose's findings.

  • You need a great job to hire a great person. A great job is not a laundry list of skills, experiences and “must-have” personality traits. A great job is a series of tasks and challenges the person being offered the job finds more satisfying than the compensation being earned.
  • The best people network to get their jobs; they don’t push the apply button. Since 85% of the total talent market – including 50% of active candidates – found their last job via a referral, you need to spend 85% of your time finding these people.
  • You need to conduct an in-depth, respectful interview. The best people consider the quality of the interview as representative of the quality of the company, job and hiring manager. The Performance-based Interviewdescribed in the video achieves all of this including an extremely accurate assessment of competency, fit and motivation to do the work described in the performance-based job description.
  • You need to provide the person a 30% increase to maximize performance and satisfaction. A career move consists of a bigger job with more impact, a job that offers the opportunity to grow faster and a richer mix of more satisfying work. When these non-monetary factors exceed 30% you can be sure you’re hiring a highly motivated top performer.
  • You can’t negotiate the terms of an offer before the person knows about the job. When a job represents a true career move, the typical company name, job title, location and compensation factors don’t matter as much. That’s why you need to begin each contact with an exploratory warm-up. Filtering on skills, compensation, title and location prevents this type of conversation to even take place.
  • The best people have different skills and experiences. That’s what makes them the best people. Since we promote people we know based on their past performance, we should hire people from the outside the same way. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that if the person can do the work and sees the work as a career move, the person will have all of the skills, experiences and motivation necessary to succeed. This is not only how you hire top performers, it’s also how you hire for diversity.
  • You need a great recruiter to make the career case. Hiring the strongest talent is not a transaction, especially when it comes to passive candidates. It takes hours spread over weeks for a person to fully understand all of the factors involved in a career move. Recruiters need to persist and not let a person say “no” until the information is fully understood.
  • You need a fully engaged hiring manager. Not only do hiring managers hire in their own image, the best candidates accept jobs from managers in their own image. They want to work for leaders, mentors and people who understand how to manage and develop others. Knowing the job, conducting an in-depth Performance-based Interview, active listening and full engagement in the process are the prerequisites for hiring managers who want to hire stronger talent.
  • Pre-screening assessments, traditional skills-laden job descriptions and personal biases represent the primary causes of all hiring mistakes. If the best people won’t take the test, a company won’t be seeing the best people. If the best people, including diverse candidates, have a different mix of skills and experiences and are looking for a career move, not a lateral transfer, a company won’t be seeing the best people. If the assessment is made on biases, first impressions and presentation skills a company won’t be hiring the best people; they’ll be hiring the best talkers, the most affable and the most attractive.
  • You need a strategy designed to maximize quality of hire, not one focused on minimizing cost and increasing efficiency. Strategy drives tactics but in the world of talent and HR this fundamental law of the business universe is broken every day. When maximizing quality of hire is the strategy, all of the issues noted above become part of the fabric of every single hiring decision.

Many of these ideas are addressed in the new Performance-based Hiring coursejust launched on The rest you’ll discover by reading The End of Average and by trial and error.